In McKinney, concerns over concrete batching plant near wildlife sanctuary, special needs facilities and football club

Fairview Soccer Park in McKinney has been around for about 14 years. Sammy Olali developed the facility, where some 500 children train as part of the Ayses football club. The football park is close to the Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary as well as the Cornerstone Ranch, a home for adults with special needs.

Now, a company called TXI Operations wants to build a concrete batching plant just over a mile away, a move that is raising public health concerns among activists and local residents.

TXI Operations has applied for a permit with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality that would allow the company to build the plant at 1825 FM 546, southeast of the city airport. The plant would be mainly used to make concrete by mixing sand, aggregate, cement, water and other materials. The Dallas Sierra Club is organizing locals to oppose the permit in a TCEQ hearing at 6 p.m. Monday.

McKinney City Council recently annexed another piece of land in the area for another concrete company, North Texas Natural Select Materials, which plans to build a concrete recycling facility.

That means there will be two concrete batching plants operating in the same neighborhood “unless we take action,” said Victoria Howard, president of conservation and environmental action for the Dallas Sierra Club. She said they were concerned about the plant’s by-products, such as particulates, concrete dust in the air, polluted runoff and diesel fumes.

Concrete manufacturing plants are the third largest industrial source of pollution, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

“The impact on health is what worries us. – Sammy Olali, Fairview Soccer Park

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Olali, the owner of the football club, spoke out against the North Texas Natural Select Materials plant in front of city council last year. Now he opposes the plant proposed by TXI. “The impact on health is what worries us,” said Olali, according to WFAA. “We would have to find another place to go, and the fields are already hard to find. “

TXI did not respond to requests for comment.

But Josh Leftwich, president and CEO of the Texas Aggregates & Concrete Association, said, “Concrete is one of the oldest and most widely used building materials in the world and one of the essential materials that support the tremendous growth of Texas, including the Dallas metro.

Many state-owned concrete, cement and aggregates companies are members of this association, including TXI.

“Concrete batch plant operators must go through a robust licensing process by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which includes a rigorous environmental review and a public comment period,” Leftwich said. “Concrete plants operate according to a set of regulations that ensure the protection of the most sensitive surrounding populations. ”

He added, “TACA members strive to be good community partners. In addition to adhering to a myriad of state and federal regulations, they voluntarily limit the environmental impact of their operations by incorporating best management practices to further mitigate air emissions, noise control and truck traffic, such as planting vegetation, modifying work practices and improving perimeter fencing. ”

TXI is embroiled in a legal battle with the town of McKinney over another batch plant the town has tried to shut down.

In early 2020, the city said it discovered that one of TXI’s factories was operating on land that had been rezoned for use by the regional office. The city’s adjustment council has given the TXI plant until April 29 of last year to close or comply with current zoning.

This factory, within 500 feet of the nearest homes, received city noise citations in 2018. In July 2019, 8,000 pounds of cement dust from the factory blanketed a nearby neighborhood, according to the Community impact newspaper.

The company told state regulators at the time that equipment malfunctions resulted in the release of cement dust. Since the city decided to shut the plant down, TXI has filed legal challenges, saying it was never told about the zoning change and that McKinney officials were targeting the plant because they wanted the land. on which it is located.

As the city continues to fight this plant in court, there really isn’t much there is to do about the one TXI is offering near Fairview Soccer Park. “This property is not McKinney Incorporated, so there’s nothing the Town of McKinney can do about it,” Howard explained.

Over two decades ago, Cathy Dunne purchased property on this unincorporated land in McKinney. She wasn’t sure exactly what that meant back then: that she was essentially cut off from the rest of the city. She just knew the land was in the countryside where she could have horses and she thought it was beautiful.

“It was just kind of a perfect situation,” she said.

“I didn’t know all the ins and outs of non-incorporation. I just know we don’t have much to say, ”Dunne said. “And I was very worried that they would put something like a slaughterhouse here once I found out what that meant, that basically anything goes.”

There is no slaughterhouse, but there could be a concrete batching plant near Dunne land depending on how the TCEQ hearing went on Monday evening. She will speak out against it. Dunne, who cares for her elderly parents at home, said she was concerned about potential pollutants from the plant and the damage the additional traffic would cause to roads in the area.

“I really don’t want that plant out there,” she said.

This is why citizens and activists are going to the TCEQ meeting on Monday evening. “The idea would be for the TCEQ to deny the permit,” Howard said.

“I think if the permit is issued the only other thing we could really have an impact on would be any kind of traffic, health or environmental study they would do,” Howard added. “But if they get a TCEQ permit, it’s kind of the end of the road. This is the last big gesture.

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